GAF Nomad

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IMDEX 2007 Maritime patrol (523790055).jpg
N24A Nomad of the Indonesian Navy
Role STOL aircraft
Manufacturer Government Aircraft Factories
First flight 23 July 1971
Status Still in civil and military service
Primary users Philippine Air Force
Australian Army
Indonesian National Navy
Produced 1975–1985
Number built 172

The GAF Nomad is a twin-engine turboprop, high-wing, short take off and landing (STOL) aircraft. It was designed and built by the Australian Government Aircraft Factories (GAF) at Fishermens Bend, Melbourne. Major users of the design have included the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, the Australian Army and the Australian Customs Service. The Nomad is to be re-engineered and put back into production as the Gippsland GA18.

Design and development[edit]

Development of the Nomad began in 1965 at GAF as Project N. The Australian government funded two prototypes in January 1970 for the twin engined, multi-purpose transport. The government was keen to build an aircraft in order to maintain aircraft production at GAF after the end of Mirage III production.[1] The first prototype (registered VH-SUP) flew for the first time on 23 July 1971. The aircraft was now known as the N2, and was aimed at the military and civilian markets. The designation N22 was to be used for military aircraft (becoming N22B in production), and N24 was to be used for the lengthened civilian version.

The only Nomad in Australia remaining airworthy in 2009, an N22C

The original design intention was that the entire empennage would be hinged, such that it could be swung open providing rear loading access (the target payload was a small vehicle). This necessitated the raised cruciform tail.

The Nomad design was considered problematic and early Royal Australian Air Force evaluations were critical of the design. An early, stretched-fuselage variant crashed, killing GAF's chief test pilot Stuart Pearce (father of actor Guy Pearce),[2] and the assistant head designer. The Nomad has been involved in a total of 32 total hull-loss accidents, which have resulted in 76 fatalities.[3]

Only 172 Nomads (including the two prototypes) were manufactured, due to the limited foreign sales achieved by GAF. In 1986, GAF was incorporated into Aerospace Technologies of Australia.[1]

In June 2008, Gippsland Aeronautics (now GippsAero) announced it had won bidding to take over the Nomad's type certificate and would probably be restarting production.[4] Some of the GippsAero design and testing engineers, including co-founder George Morgan, worked on Nomad development at GAF.[5] The N24-based GA18 will be re-engineered with new powerplants, propellers, glass cockpit and weight-saving measures.[6] It is planned to bring it into service after the development and certification of the new 10-seat GA10, due to be complete in March 2013.

As of December 2009, only one Nomad is still flying in Australia, with another four in New Zealand.[7][8][9]


Australian Army Nomad in 1992
N.2 Nomad
Prototype, two built.
Initial production version for 12 passengers for the Australian Army.
13 passenger civil version.
Cargo variant modified from N.22B with Maximum Takeoff Weight increased to 4,050 kilograms (8,930 lb).
N.22F Floatmaster
Twin floatplane version, two-built.
Utility transport aircraft with a fuselage lengthened by 3 ft 9 in (1.14 m).
Improved version for 17 passengers, 40 built.
Re-engineered 18-seat N24 in development by GippsAero.
Nomad Missionmaster
Military transport and utility aircraft.
Nomad Searchmaster
Maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft.
Nomad N.22 Searchmaster B
Coastal patrol aircraft, seven built.
Nomad N.22 Searchmaster L
Improved version of the Searchmaster B, 11 built.
Nomad N.22 Searchmaster LI
Improved version of the Searchmaster B, fitted with the APS-104(N) 2 radar.
Nomad N.22 Searchmaster LII
Improved version of the Searchmaster B, fitted with the APS-104(V) 5 radar.


Civil Operators[edit]

N22C Nomad displayed at the Royal Flying Doctor Service base, Broken Hill
  • Transportes Aéreos Isla Robinson Crusoe[10]
  • Alimediterranea


 New Zealand
 Papua New Guinea
  • Paraguay Air Service
  • Rhine Air
 United States

Military operators[edit]

  • Indonesian Navy - 42 N22 and N24 Nomad - 23 in storage: status AOG, 19 airworthy and 6 in service.[11]
 Papua New Guinea

Notable incidents[edit]

  • On 6 June 1976, Tun Fuad Stephens, the first chief minister of Sabah, Malaysia, plus 10 others, died in the crash of a Nomad in the state capital, Kota Kinabalu.
  • On 4 May 1987, a Nomad of the Indonesian Naval Aviation Unit, PUSPENERBAL crashed at the Mapur Island, Bintan area, Riau Province. The aircraft was a total loss.
  • On 9 September 1991, an Australian Army N22B Nomad crashed near Drake in northern NSW with the loss of 4 people, including the pilot.
  • On 10 February 2001, Gum Air’s N24A Nomad (PZ-TBP) crashed on a flight from Paramaribo – Zanderij (Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport PBM/SMJP) to Njoeng Jacob Kondre Airstrip SMJK. The aircraft had fallen out of radio contact, and personnel at the airstrip in Jacob Kondre said it was flying low, and crashed into a mountain. All 9 passengers plus the pilot perished.[12]
  • On 30 December 2007, a PENERBAL Nomad crashed in the area of We island, Nangroe Aceh Darussalam Province.
  • On 7 September 2009, a Nomad of the Indonesian Naval Aviation Unit, PENERBAL, crashed in the area of Bulungan, East Borneo. The aircraft was on a routine patrol near Ambalat Oil Block. The accident caused the fatality of one Naval officer, plus three civilians on board. The pilot and copilot received serious injuries.
  • On 28 January 2010, a Nomad of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) crashed shortly after take-off into a residential area in Cotabato City, killing Maj. Gen. Butch Lacson, commander of the PAF 3rd Air Division, plus seven other officers on board.[13]

Specifications (N22B)[edit]

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1982–83[14]

General characteristics



  1. ^ a b GAF Nomad at retrieved 5 December 2009.
  2. ^ Guy Pearce biography at retrieved 5 December 2009.
  3. ^ "Aviation Safety Network Database". 2007-05-05. Retrieved 2011-02-15. 
  4. ^ "Nomad is set to soar once again". 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2011-02-15. 
  5. ^ a b "GippsAero Newsletter, March 2011". GippsAero. March 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Kelly, Emma (3 August 2010). "Gippsland preparing for G18 market entry within two years". Flight Global. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  7. ^ CASA civil aircraft register search, using "Government Aircraft Factories" as the search parameter. Search conducted 6 December 2009.
  8. ^ List of NZ-registered N22s retrieved 6 December 2009.
  9. ^ List of NZ-registered N24s retrieved 6 December 2009.
  10. ^ Our Fleet - Transportes Aéreos Isla Robinson Crusoe retrieved 6 December 2009.
  11. ^ "Navy to ground 27 old war machines". Jakarta Post. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ 8 Killed in Air Force plane crash - ABS-CBN News website retrieved 28 January 2010.
  14. ^ Taylor 1982, pp. 7–9.

External links[edit]